One of the first major blogging events we’ve done on Tor.com was for steampunk, and every autumn with the turning of the leaves, the H.M.S. Stubbington gets its engines stoked for another bout of gears, cogs, and 19th-century know-how. Now, Year Four into this brass madness, the question comes to mind: “Why does steampunk still matter?”
James Schafer, the co-owner of the Steampunk on Facebook page, sent that missive to me and several other steampunk tinkerers, academics, costumers, and event planners several months back, and its been on my mind ever since. Has our love for dirigibles gotten our heads too far into the clouds? Are we wandering, directionless, befuddled about what had brought us here? Are steampunks only good for quirky cameo appearances on reality TV or at the beginning of sitcoms about financially-challenged young women?
Everyone had their own answers to Schafer’s question, and here’s the best one I’ve come up with:
“Steampunk matters because it’s a verb now (or, always has been).”
More than just an aesthetic or a subgenre, it is a movement, with the emphasis on “move.” People do steampunk: whether writing it, drawing it, performing it, building it, or dreaming it.
So for Steampunk Week, we’re looking at what steampunk does that makes it relevant to the science fiction/fantasy community – and the greater world outside it. You’ll get bits of politics, art, literature, music, history, culture, and everything in between.*
This year, you can expect excerpts, articles, art, and fan-squee from myself and fellow contributors Kevin J. Anderson, Yomi Ayeni, Julie Brannon, Professor Calamity, Professor Elemental, Faith Erin Hicks, Lisa Hager, Margaret “Magpie” Killjoy, Arthur Morgan, Tee Morris, Balogun Ojetade, Cat Rambo, Paul Shapera, Ann Vandermeer, and Diana Vick.
Sweepstakes for the hottest steampunk books, posters, and more from some of our contributors as well as Katy Cross, Jillian Lerner, Luis Ortiz, Rocklove Jewelry, James Ng, Lev AC Rosen, Mark Siegel, and Unhallowed Metropolis.
Be sure to also bookmark our Steampunk Week 2012 index to keep track of all the goodies!
Ay-leen the Peacemaker is the editor of Beyond Victoriana, the oldest-running blog on multicultural steampunk (which is also turning 4 this year!) She is an academic scholar on steampunk (among other things). You can also follow her on Twitter.